Step 4: Virtualization engineer controls Day 2 Ops for the Full Stack
Network Admins calm down and look here.
The network admins are not usually in favor of anything that replaces their day to day jobs. If you can show them the finished solution, you may be able to sway them in favour. Make sure to give them a demo of the OMNI plugin running inside vSphere using VxRail SmartFabric enabled switches.
Click into the Omni dashboard.
The OMNI dashboard displays the current information on the VxRail SmartFabric enabled Switches. Here the Virtualization engineer has visibility to the OS10 version and the VLANS currently setup. That’s it? Not sure what NetAdmin Ned was expecting but there is no Network-Chaos-Now button!
Lets give Ned a use-case for SmartFabrics
You can describe a scenario to Ned that is common. It’s time to add a new host to the existing cluster. Normally you would ask Ned to prepare the host network ports. He would label them add all the required VLANS and to make sure the settings match with the existing host ports.
With SmartFabrics no need to bother Ned
Adding hosts to HCI clusters are now done solely by the Virtualization Admin without any need to ask the NetAdmin to prepare host ports. It is all taken care of automatically by the VxRail SmartFabric services and the OMNI plugin.
At this point we have already run the first two steps to get SmartFabric installed, our Switches have SmartFabric services enabled and the VxRail Manager Gui deployment has automatically configured the switch and disabled the CLI. Now we will add the Open Manage Network Integration or SmartFabric OMNI plugin to vSphere, giving the virtualization engineer full visibility and control of the dedicated HCI switch fabric.
Download the OMNI plugin VM
We begin by deploying the OMNI VM ova, which is available from VMware Solution Exchange here. It seems to bounce you now to the Dell Support site where you can get the latest version here. As of June 2019 the latest version is 1.1.18.
Deploy the OVA
These steps are straightforward. Isn’t great that we can do the OVA deployment thru the HTML5 interface? Be sure to match up the source and destination networks correctly at Step 7 in the process. Later on we will configure an ipv4 address on vCenter network and enable ipv6 on the MGMT network.
Power on the VM and connect to a console on the OMNI vm. You need to establish a password here for the admin user. The default username and default password is setup as admin / admin.
Configure the OMNI appliance
Since this is a first run deployment, we are going to select option “0. Full Setup” at the Menu. As you can see you can re-run and do other admin tasks later if required from this interface.
Before we active the first connection, we will setup the Profile name “vCenter Server Network” and assign a valid ipv4 address for the OMNI VM here.
The second connection is for ipv6 discovery on the VxRail Management network, no ipv4 address needed here.
Be sure to activate both networks on the last screen.
You will be prompted at the CLI again for NTP, SSL Cert, the appliance ip address, FQDN for VCSA, VC Username and Password, and finally the OMNI ip for REST and REST username and password.
Log in and out of vSphere and the OMNI plugin will appear.
Connect the VxRail nodes to deploy SmartFabric enabled switches. Power on the nodes. Connect the laptop to the first port(port 1 only!) in the SFS switch. This is the “jump port” and will allow access to the default ip address [https://192.168.10.200] of the VxRail Manager VM. The VxRail Manager VM is already deployed in the appliances in factory.
VxRail will deploy SmartFabric now
Since VxRail version 4.7.100 there is now the ability for the GUI driven VxRail Manager install to detect Dell EMC SmartFabric enabled switches. This automates configuration of the switches during the full stack deployment.
Setup the REST user to deploy SmartFabric
When the installer selects to deploy SmartFabric switches the next step will be to configure the Rest User account on the SFS enabled switch. If its a first run, a new password will be created. If you are setting up a second VxRail cluster into an existing SmartFabric, then the current password will be requested. The Rest User account will be documented in the Pre-Install Checklist by the installer.
New option to choose 2-Node cluster
The ability to deploy 2-node clusters is now an option with VxRail 4.7 versions. The GUI install gives you a choice for 2-Node here. For all other VxRail deployments the default option is selected.
The initial cluster deployment needs to be 3 or 4 nodes. Normally the node with lowest serial number wins the VxRail Manager election process. This is signified by the small “house” icon. If you don’t see all the powered on nodes, try a reboot of the missing node and wait. It should be detected by ipv6 multicast using the loudmouth service on the discovery VLAN 3939.
Automate the build with JSON
Remember we use the Pre-Install checklist is used to capture all the required information to make a VxRail deployment in a customer Datacenter go perfectly. It can also be used to generate a JSON file to help eliminate human error during the GUI setup.
Here we have used the JSON file to populate all the fields in the GUI install of VxRail. You only need to verify that everything is correct and provide the passwords.
New external MGMT VLAN option
There is a new option during the VxRail 4.7 version of the install that asks for a Management VLAN ID. The default is 0 to allow for Native VLAN to be used, or you can specify a different public management VLAN here. It should be different to the internal management VLAN used to separate the cluster build. The Internal Management VLAN was the -m option set in Step 1. This is very easy with SmartFabric now, as the VxRail Manager will make the necessary port configuration changes on the SFS enabled switches.
VxRail Manager automates the Switch configuration
There is a new task at the end of the GUI install and just before validation. SmartFabric services will now configure all the required VLANS that were specified, including Management, vMotion, vSAN and VM traffic.
Validation eliminates human error
Trust but verify. Even with the SmartFabric automation, VxRail Manager still performs the important task of validating the install. Validation must pass before the actual deployment begins. This will capture anything amiss such as missing DNS entries, IP address conflicts , missing NTP. Basically anything that could prevent the build from completing successfully.
Once validation has passed there is an opportunity to download a copy of the JSON file (useful if Step-By-Step was selected).
It is now time to kick-off the build. This is a fully automated process. There is zero value in manually setting up VSAN. By automating the process Dell EMC can be certain that every customer install of VxRail clusters are fully aligned to best practice. No snowflakes!